Halifax Food Review: The Emporium on Windsor Street

It's lunchtime on a Friday when we head out to the Good Food Emporium's new Windsor Street location. It moved from Gottingen Street at the end of May. It's a cool, crisp fall day and, once inside the restaurant, I'm hit with its warmth---not the heat, but a general good vibe. The place is packed---there's a row each of booths, tables and counter seating and all are full. We manage to secure a teeny table by the door and set our jackets down to hold it while we make our way to the counter to place our order. It's counter service on weekdays, table service on weekends.

Checking out the menu, I'm excited by the egg-y items---but breakfast is only served until 11am, so I order the fishcakes with a spinach salad instead ($10). My friend orders the burrito with a caesar salad ($10) and adds chicken for $2---he also orders a soda for $1.52. I ask for a coffee ($1.75) and I'm offered the choice of light or dark roast. The clerk hands me my coffee in a bright and colourful San Francisco tourism mug. She also hands over a green plastic cow toy and explains that it's used to mark our table so that the servers delivering food will know where to bring it. This action just goes to show the playful feel of this place.

Once back at our table, green cow in hand, I take a good look around. Every possible surface of this place is painted a cheery, vibrant hue. With windows on two sides, it's bright, too. There are several single diners at the long counter looking out at the street, while the tables are all occupied by two large groups of friends. It's a pretty granola space, but there is a dynamic mix of people, from all walks of life and differing ages---and they're all munching happily.

When the server spots our little green cow, she sets our food down. It looks great and tastes even better. My fishcakes are possibly the best I've ever eaten---with a nice balance of white fish and potato, there are also pieces of carrot and plenty of fresh parsley. The fish is enclosed in a delightfully crunchy cornmeal crust that cracks to reveal the cake within. The plate also comes with a portion of green tomato chow. My side spinach salad is nice, too---spinach, egg, mushrooms and red onions are tossed in a creamy, garlicky dressing and topped with mozzarella.

But the bread! The slice of buttered bread on the side is one of the most delicious sliced breads I've ever had---rich and yeasty. I find out that I can buy a loaf for $5 and make a note to pick one up on the way out. Once I've eaten all I can, I pack up a full fishcake to take home.

My friend's burrito is excellent: stuffed with vegetables, black beans, cheese, chicken, salsa and all rolled up in a flour tortilla, it's served with sour cream and hot sauce. His caesar salad is yummy, too. Though there isn't any bacon in the salad, it doesn't lack in flavour or texture. With house-made croutons, salty parmesan cheese, plenty of fresh cracked black pepper, the romaine lettuce was simply dressed in a lively lemony dressing.

Arriving at The Good Food Emporium, we didn't quite know what to expect. I heard there are a lot of vegan options, so I was concerned my meat-loving friend might be turned off. But it's exactly the opposite: We both groan over how good each bit of our respective---and each other's---meals are. These are simply prepared meals that really let their ingredients shine.

And when we get up to leave, I realize that this place doesn't just send you off with good food in your belly, but a good feeling to go with it.


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